21st Century Living

This Week’s Good News!

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Pretty sure we’ve all lived long enough to realize that during difficult and widespread tragic times, the best, and the worst, in human nature surfaces. Well, this being a Good News story, I will of course spotlight the best in human nature, and here it is in this brief story…and I’m not fooling!!!!!

My Beautiful Mother’s Legacy

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Julie Braig on our left; my mother on our right, in beige.

My mother, Patricia Constance Conroy Desonier, left my world far too early: September 24, 1994. She was an extraordinary mother, spouse, grandmother, musician, and activist.

As a member of the Honolulu Chapter of the Catholic Women’s Guild, she and other community-minded women spearheaded a ministry to benefit the homeless on the areas of Oahu most populated by those affected by the inability to maintain a roof over their heads. In this article the many charitable works of the Guild were spotlighted, including the efforts my mother and another member, Julie Braig, completed, centered in Nanakuli, Hawaii.

Kid’s playground dedicated to my mother after her death.

They created an Office of Homeless Ohana (Ohana meaning family) where individuals and family members could set up a mailing address so they could send off applications and resumes to acquire meaningful employment and/or receive mail from other loved ones, have a place to shower, receive meals, and gather as a community; playground equipment was even secured and installed so children could play and live just like those who had a home to return to each day.

My family lived 30 miles away from where this shelter existed, and my mother’s abilities were limited because of severe rheumatoid arthritis that plagued her since she was a teenager, but my mother and Julie made the trip week in and week out to help those who needed someone in their corner during a rough time in their lives. My mother taught me many things about charity and living a full life. Here are a few of her maxims:

  • Don’t assume everyone lives as comfortably as you do. Life can change in an instant;
  • Give of yourself in any way you can;
  • When in physical pain, just remember: you can be active and hurt a bit more, or you can stay at home and do nothing and still hurt, nonetheless.

Thank you, Mom, for being such an influence on my life, my family’s life, and the lives of so many who never met you. I love you, and I miss you terribly.

Social Media in the time of Covid-19

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On my area’s Next Door app, a person, now working from home (Angry Neighbor) lambasted his next-door neighbor for having a new roof put on (Roofing Neighbor) because of all the noise that disrupted the Angry Neighbor’s workday. Without even checking with Roofing Neighbor, he concluded the roofing work was not necessary, was not of an emergent need, and therefore Roofing Neighbor was ruining everyone’s work-from-home experience out of utter rudeness and with ill-intent.

Roofing Neighbor responded by saying the work was being done because of leaks that were disrupting family life and causing an unsafe environment for their family of five. It was indeed an emergent, rather than an elective, roof repair.

Angry Neighbor and Roofing Neighbor went back and forth and back and forth while those following the stream excoriated Angry Neighbor for being such an )&*?+^$%^&#% to the tune of 47 comments by the end of the day. I happened to notice that Angry Neighbor and Roofing Neighbor had stopped commenting way before that time so they had obviously removed themselves from the fray.

The next day, there were 137 comments, none from Angry and Roofing Neighbor, but comments nonetheless from uninvolved people still ticked off at Angry Neighbor’s rudeness in bashing his next-door neighbor.

What is this all about?

It’s about fragile psyches angered and worried about the state of our country and our world in the time of Covid-19. Sure, such social media harassing and bullying has been going on for quite some time now, but I have to believe it has worsened because of how vulnerable all of us feel.

A dog backed into a corner lashes out at perceived threats.

We are all backed in a corner right now with no proven safe way out. Most of us are doing our part in trying to contain a menace that threatens our very existence and that of our loved ones, but thus far, no relief is on the immediate horizon. We are petrified, and instead of treating each other with kid gloves, some of us are kicking others when they are down, a practice that need not happen. Instead…

As a human race, we must choose between:

  • the violence of adults, and the smiles of children;
  • the ugliness of hate, and the will to oppose it;
  • inflicting suffering and humiliation on our fellow man, and offering him the solidarity and hope he deserves for naught.

Even in darkness, it is possible to create light and encourage compassion. Every moment of our life is essential; every gesture is essential. Our role in life is to give an offering to each other. – Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Elie Wiesel

 

This Week’s Good News!

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We all know that as adults, we are supposed to encourage children to read – whether in the classroom or outside the classroom. But what does one do when a school’s finances aren’t enough to stock a library? Well, you do what this librarian did: you scour discount, used stores and use your own money to create one for them. Wait until you see this!

This Week’s Good News!

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Oh my, I sure do love it when my local ABC affiliate runs an Eric’s Heroes story. You will be challenged, yet encouraged, by how 83-year old Bernie Stillwell has chosen to face life – even as she loses bits and pieces of her mobility.

This Week’s Good News!

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Generation Z could teach all the rest of the existing generations a thing or two. Like in this story that makes inclusion the norm. My heart is full of good vibes with this delightful good news story.

Life’s Chapters

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I am not a writer, I happen to be a woman, mother, spouse, sister, grandmother, aunt, and a friend who has tried her hand at writing. I wrote a novel, Requiem for the Status Quo, to honor the father for whom I provided care when he had Alzheimer’s disease – a disease that took his life on October 13, 2007. I didn’t set out to be a novelist – arguably, I’m really not a novelist at all – but I knew it was imperative that I do something important for future Alzheimer’s caregivers and to use whichever vehicle was needed to accomplish that something. For me, it was writing a book.

Then what? What else could I possibly do to magnify the impact I set out to make regarding the disease that takes everyone it settles on, and forever changes the family members associated with its victims?

What I did was join AlzAuthors, a digital and community platform that uses the art of storytelling to light the way for those impacted by Alzheimer’s disease, to advance understanding of the disease, and to lift the silence and stigma of Alzheimer’s and other dementias. As a newly published author and a survivor of dementia caregiving, I was extraordinarily impressed – and still am – with the organization founded by three daughters of Alzheimer’s who sought a place of refuge and resources for their own caregiving journeys.

Then a funny thing happened – one of those founders asked me to join the management team of five, an invitation I gladly accepted, and with the guidance of a business consultant, who just happens to be my own daughter, AlzAuthors went from being a growing community of authors to a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Then something else happened: although not serious, my health took a debilitating turn that now requires me to step back from my AlzAuthors responsibilities. Only the patient knows what she can handle, and what I know is that my focus needs to be on my health, as well as on the precious family that means so very much to me. I am still an AlzAuthor and I very much support AlzAuthors’ non-profit mission, but I will do so from a slightly removed distance.

Of this I am certain, and I quote Pico Iyer when I state:

In an age of acceleration, nothing can be more exhilarating than going slow.

In an age of distraction, nothing is so luxurious as paying attention.

In an age of constant movement, nothing is so urgent as sitting still.

I completed another novel with a message I feel is of great importance that I will publish later this year. Currently, however, I have more important matters on which to spend my time and energy.

Now is my time for sitting still – focusing on me, and focusing on my family. That is the latest chapter I am writing for my life, hoping to get it right, once and for all.